Following April’s search-and-destroy mission on weeds and TWO May follow-up weed pulls, we had room for new plants. Thanks to Arts and Venues participation we were able to purchase about 50 new plants. On June 6, we set up a special workday to get them in the ground, between rainstorms, for the next phase in rejuvenating our native garden.We also hope Arts and Venues is going to provide funding to enable us to have more consistent guidance from botanical consultant Rick Brune, who has more than 30 years experience in gardening with natives. We have purchased native seedlings from Rick for the garden in the past; his excellent prairie garden is a source of inspiration. Rick and Sally visited Timberline Gardens to pick out the plants (see species list).
After being instructed in planting technique, garden team members scattered out to plant the new arrivals. All were heavily watered to settle the soil around their roots and, despite expected rains, will be frequently watered the next couple weeks. We have high hopes that, with weed competition reduced, we will have great results with this planting, perhaps even something approaching Rick’s backyard prairie in due time.We also learned in May that, with the opening of the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in the Trading Post near the garden, a life-size statue of John Denver was to be erected nearby. Installation of the pedestal base has been in progress for a couple weeks, and the statue arrived just a day or two ago. It’s already proving to be a visitor attraction! Perhaps it will help draw attention to the garden as well.
It’s been a productive spring! With interpretive signs planned for installation in the fall, the garden should be a wonderful educational resource for Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. The photo gallery below recaps events. Click on any image to view as a slideshow.
Oops, forgot the list!
Sulfur flower Eriogonum umbellatum
Antelope sage Eriogonum jamesii
Winterfat Eurotia lanata
Leadplant, dwarf Amorpha nana
Oregon grape Mahonia repens
Sandcherry Prunus besseyi
Fireweed Epilobium angustifolium
Butterflyweed Asclepias tuberosa
Yellow sundrops Calylophus serrulata
Harebell Campanula rotundifolia
Foothills penstemon Penstemon virens
Indian paintbrush Castelleja integra
Stonecrop Sedum stenopetalum
White prairie-clover Dalea candida
Evening-primrose Oenothera caespitosa
Prickly poppy Argemone
Kinnikinick Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Prairie smoke Geum triflorum
Bad news, good news. Our garden at Red Rocks has been daunting, as each year we seem to fight the same crop of weeds. It’s been frustrating and discouraging, as this blog attests year after year. New plants that were added struggled and usually failed against the overwhelming competition of weeds.
Reluctantly, we realized we had to do something more than what we have been. After discussions with our volunteers and DMP rangers, we did a selective spraying in mid-April, as carefully as possible targeting difficult weeds, perennial problem orchardgrass, cheatgrass, thistle, etc. and trying to avoid anything worth saving.
Then we had to wait for results before we could plant anything. Seedlings we had brought down to plant in the garden went elsewhere.With a couple weeks, most of the target plants died, leaving the garden looking somewhat sad.
Then in May, the rains came. Almost every day in May, rain provided welcome water and assisted weed-pulling, but by the end of the month we were looking for sunshine. A small group of us had a work session in the garden May 16th, and Chris and Jack worked to clear the area south of the upper stairway, an area we just hadn’t tackled yet. Look at that nice fresh soil behind the team, ready for new plants.On the normal Friends of Red Rocks workday, May 30th, another small group assembled to keep chipping away at the remaining weeds. We also had an opportunity to salvage a few plants in the path of construction, and those were quickly planted.
This morning, a small but intrepid group braved sun and blue skies to tackle our perennial project at the Red Rocks Native Garden, and see what Mother Nature had in store for us this year. Little green was showing, except for those ubiquitous weeds we thought we had pulled last year!
Once we really got into it, though, we found signs of spring even in the plants we weren’t ripping out of the ground. Our Golden Currant is starting to bloom, and many others, from Beebalm to Roses and Golden Banner, are peeking out from under a layer of litter and mulch. Orchardgrass continues to be our nemesis, as does the delightful little filaree, already blooming.
By the end of the morning, we’d accumulated at least three bags of weeds, reflagged many of the tiny native plants just poking up, and given ourselves a start on another season at Red Rocks. This year at last, we expect the interpretive garden signs to be installed, and that will bring a bit of focus to our efforts.
Thanks to all those, present and absent, who keep the dream of the native garden alive and especially to those who keep showing up to help make it happen!
(p.s. Happy birthdays to Jim and Susan!!)
Our small but intrepid group made the most of wet ground—great weed-pulling conditions—today at the Red Rocks garden. Sally had missed the July workday (and apparently we failed to record it here), so was perhaps unprepared for the volume of vegetation that greeted us. We made some headway, however!
We made an effort to get ahead of a few undesirables. Annual witchgrass and tough-to-dig orchardgrass were targets, as were western ragweed (which we can only slow down, not stop) and horseweed (Conyza canadensis). Although natives, these last two can become far too abundant for our garden.
Speaking of “abundant,” our prairie cordgrass is thriving! We fully expect to be cutting it back in future years. Fall flowers beginning to come into bloom include the small white asters, purple spikes of gayfeather, and, of course, the hairy gold-asters, which never seem to stop blooming! Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) took a beating early in the year, and is barely flowering, but should be looking good by next year. Our transplanted cacti are also looking fat and happy.
We thought it might be quieter this weekend at Red Rocks than next weekend, when Bassnectar arrives, so we moved our garden workday up a week. For the most part, we were right, and had a quiet productive day with the regular garden crew and a couple new trainees. (Thanks, James and Justin, for joining in and for putting up with us!)
As we’re coming to expect this time of year, the garden was going great guns and the weeds were even further ahead! Here’s Susan, surveying a field of grass—sometimes it’s hard to know where to start!
By the end of our weeding session, we’d made quite a mess. For the most part, we cleaned up after ourselves. And we had a few areas of relatively open plantings to show for our morning’s work.
We had dodged the concert, but things got lively when the groom got left behind during a photo shoot, and ran through the garden looking for his wedding! Then the bride went missing. She shortly turned up, in a mad dash through our piles of weeds with her wedding party. Now we see what bridesmaids are for– keeping her dress out of those muddy weeds we’d pulled!
We plant a cactus!
Today was the day to replant the hedgehog cactus, salvaged on March 28 from the front of the Trading Post where the landscape is undergoing reconstruction. We have high hopes that this remnant of the original cactus garden will settle happily into its new location, despite being “on hold” for several weeks.
Earlier this month, we planted several dozen new plants. Check them out in our New May plantings post.
Our traditional photo of the crew shows how happy they are with their accomplishments, however exhausted and unkempt at the end of the morning session. Thanks, team!! Superb job!
In May, we had an opportunity to get seedlings of native plants from Rick, our frequent supplier. Thanks to help from Carol, all of them were successfully planted the same day we received them, right before our most recent snowstorm May 11-12.Added to Red Rocks garden 5/10/14, for the record:
1 Joe Pye weed, Eutrochium maculatum (formerly Eupatorium maculatum), a wetland species
2 Swamp verbena, Verbena hastata
~6 Scarlet globemallow, Sphaeralcea coccinea, aka Cowboy’s delight
~6 Chiming bells, Mertensia lanceolata
~12 Blue flax, Linum lewisii
~6 Wild onion, Allium textile
~6 Needleleaf sedge, Carex eleocharis
~12 Gayfeather, Liatris punctata
~6 Prairie violet, Viola nuttallii
~6 Evening-primrose, Oenothera coronopifolia
~6 Bastard toadflax, Comandra umbellata And, on 5/8/14, about 6 chunks of tulip pricklypear (Opuntia phaeacantha), varying in number of pads.
As of the intense rains of this past week, most of the tiny seedlings seem to be doing well. We have hopes of getting these species, most of which are new to the garden, well established this year.
We are also working on our interpretive signs, which we expect to complete this year, and Rick has also shared some of his photos of these species.
Photos in this post are copyright Rick Brune, and used by permission. Click on photos for slideshow, larger view, and full captions.